What to do with John Smit?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 21 Feb 2008 at 13:14

It seems that Rudi Straueli is asking himself the same question and you can’t really blame him for not having an immediate answer to hand.

The Sharks Procurement Committee meets today to discuss the news that broke yesterday. Peter de Villiers has confirmed John Smit as Bok captain for the 2008 season and wishes for the former Sharks stalwart to return to SA to play domestic rugby here. SARU have commenced negotiations with Smit’s French club, Clermont Auvergne, to secure an early release from his two-year contract. Smit is currently out of action for at least 2 months with a knee injury, but insists that he remains committed to the terms of his contract and trusts SARU will negotiate a professional, clean exit for him, if they indeed succeed in convincing the French that he is surplus to their requirements.

Now John is a local hero in Durban. Prior to the World Cup triumph, I think it’s safe to say he was less highly-regarded in other areas of our rugby-mad country and I’m sure if he had any say in the matter, he could think of nowhere other than the Sharks to make his return to SA domestic rugby. There is, however, once large and fiery problem and it goes by the name of Bismarck Wilhelm du Plessis.

Bismarck is a special talent and already after Round 1 is head and shoulders above the other hookers vying for the Bok berth. Having served a three year apprenticeship under Smit at the Sharks and playing the role of his deputy at the World Cup last year, Bissie must have been pretty relieved to finally step out of the big man’s shadow this season. The announcement yesterday was a pretty clear indication that du Plessis is likely to collect far more green jerseys with the number 16 on them than the number 2 this year. That in itself is quite a blow and if he is now told that the starting hooker berth at the Sharks will go back to Smit, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Bismarck pack his bags for pastures greener. I also wouldn’t fall over from shock if his brother went with him.

Loyalty is one thing and Smit is a Sharks stalwart, but he’s turning 30 in April, whereas du Plessis is in his early twenties. Craig Burden has had a lot of time invested in him as well and is looking better at hooker each game he plays. The fact is, as harsh as it may sound, the Sharks just plain do not need John Smit back at hooker. Where he does have a huge role to play and a vast amount to offer is in the area of leadership and experience. If this is to be utilised in Durban, a spot will need to be found for him somewhere else. Loosehead prop seems the most logical place as the Sharks have 3 very good tightheads on their books and it’s a position that requires specialisation. Smit last played tighthead at under 21 level.

But what then of the highly-rated Deon Carstens and Beast Mtawarira? And the highly-paid Kees Lensing? It’s getting more and more difficult to justify taken Smit back at all and this is exactly what is going to be preying on Straueli’s mind as he balances loyalty to a stalwart against doing what’s best in the medium-term interests of his squad.

It breaks my heart to say it, but I think John Smit needs to play his provincial rugby somewhere else. The Cheetahs have hookers a-plenty and the Bulls have never rated him, so that leaves the Stormers (who already have Tiaan Liebenberg) and the Lions. The latter would be my pick, as I think John’s strength, leadership and experience could go a long way towards turning the Joburg franchise into serious Super 14 contenders in 2009.


  • Please don’t anyone burst my bubble by telling me what a good hooker Willie Wepener is. I know that already 🙁

  • Comment 1, posted at 21.02.08 13:24:19 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • The Bismark affair reminds one of Bob Skinstad in his early days. A precocious talent. Just a matter of how to fit in

  • Comment 2, posted at 21.02.08 13:43:43 by saffa_bok Reply

  • he would make a fine open-side flanker, wouldn’t he?

  • Comment 3, posted at 21.02.08 14:18:44 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • i was thinking full back.

  • Comment 4, posted at 21.02.08 14:38:03 by try time Reply

  • what we need is to clone 15 identical bismarcks…

  • Comment 5, posted at 21.02.08 14:46:13 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Hi All!
    You can shoot me down, if you wish, but I do not think John will be the Springbok captain in the next WC. I think PdV wants him for a year or two to help him in a leadership capacity because (sorry Johan) there is no other player that can lead the Boks at this stage. We have a TriNations ahead of us & we ARE the World Champs. After the TN we are going to see “transformation” step up a pace, and again John’s leadership skills are going to be needed, as it is going to be a difficult time for SA.
    I think he should come back to the Sharks…Bissie is still young & he will probably play the no.1 hooker roll for most the S14 as John will not want to rush back but rather make sure he recovers properly from his injury. By that time, Bissie will need a rest (bench rest) and he and John can alternate.
    Bissie has youth on his side & will be a much better hooker as he matures. He will be the No1 hooker for the Boks come the next WC.

  • Comment 6, posted at 21.02.08 14:50:33 by Me2 Reply

    Me2 aka Mama Shark
  • I also believe that just having John there, will help the Sharks win the S14 🙂

  • Comment 7, posted at 21.02.08 14:52:50 by Me2 Reply

    Me2 aka Mama Shark
  • Agree with your second points, Me2. John is unlikely to be fit at any stage in the Super 14 and i also wonder whether the Boks will play in the Currie Cup anyway.

  • Comment 8, posted at 21.02.08 14:54:40 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • To beat the Lions you need a top notch Captain… this is within Smit’s grasp… 2011 is not…

  • Comment 9, posted at 21.02.08 14:59:01 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Geez – Robbo – takes me 4eva to get on the site…once I am on its ok though!

    Howya doing? 😆

  • Comment 10, posted at 21.02.08 15:04:06 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • I’m good, thanks… not sure what’s causing that.

    Do you tick the “remember me” box on the login page?

  • Comment 11, posted at 21.02.08 15:11:27 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • the site doesn’t want to remember ice. 😆

  • Comment 12, posted at 21.02.08 15:15:52 by try time Reply

  • yes – the loading of the firts page takes the longest – then login – not so bad but also a while.

    i tracked the root and goes through abut 14-15 jumps…3.4.5 very slow then again 11, 12 very slow

  • Comment 13, posted at 21.02.08 15:16:32 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Very dumb site…I am worth remebering… 😈

  • Comment 14, posted at 21.02.08 15:21:45 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • I have turned off one of the plugins… can you see if it’s any better?

    Also, if you tick the remember me button on the login page, is it still slow the first time?

  • Comment 15, posted at 21.02.08 15:25:09 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I am on the “remember” thingy.

    I will try it later – and let you know!

  • Comment 16, posted at 21.02.08 15:27:30 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • If I were part of the Procurement Committee I would not hesitate to offer Smit a contract. Smit is a far superior leader to Muller.

    I cannot help but feel there are too many mecenaries playing for the sharks – players who don’t have real pride in the sharks jersey (unlike smit) > specifically Lensing, Du Plessis etc. But that is just my opinion.

  • Comment 17, posted at 21.02.08 15:30:05 by BigFAN Reply

  • Lensing yes… not sure I agree on du Plessis. He must have had numerous offers from all and sundry by now.

    Bismarck is a real star, guys. We need to hold on to him.

    Don’t think this means I don’t like or rate John. I went to school with him and have the utmost respect for him as a rugby player, captain and human being.

  • Comment 18, posted at 21.02.08 15:41:07 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Rob – did you have inside info?

  • Comment 19, posted at 21.02.08 15:42:27 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • No, Ice… common sense to me.

    I don’t know Rudi and I’m not frequently in contact with John. The last time I saw him was at Loftus in 2006 after the Super 14 match

  • Comment 20, posted at 21.02.08 15:45:33 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • We are not on the same page here Rob….I am talking Sykes here..

  • Comment 21, posted at 21.02.08 15:47:26 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Hi Ice – I see Sykes is playing for the Beeste on Saturday.

    RD – I battled with the site last night – eventually gave up.

  • Comment 22, posted at 21.02.08 15:49:50 by Nessa Reply

  • You see Ness is with me on the same page!

    Hi Ness – ja just saw that. Maybe better as Rob said on the blog. Hope he shows superiority so he can move up to the real stuff!

  • Comment 23, posted at 21.02.08 15:51:14 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • It was fine when I logged in but every time I tried to open another article, it just hung on me. I am not one of the most patient people around – so I eventually shut down.

  • Comment 24, posted at 21.02.08 15:54:44 by Nessa Reply

  • I read an article by Mike Greenaway who said that Sykes would probably be with the Beeste. Greenaway is very well connected and seldom wrong.

    Obviously there’s a problem accessing the site from SA… do all of you guys have Telkom ADSL?

  • Comment 25, posted at 21.02.08 15:55:15 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Yes – we do. But I don’t normally have a problem from home. Will see how it goes tonight.

  • Comment 26, posted at 21.02.08 15:58:01 by Nessa Reply

  • ok guys – can I ask a favour?

    Next time any of you have a connection problem, please go to the command line and type the following command:


    Send the output to [email protected]. Once I have all the info, I’ll log a support call with my hosting provider.

    This is nonsense!

  • Comment 27, posted at 21.02.08 15:58:41 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Nessa – can you confirm that you don’t have the same problem from work?

  • Comment 28, posted at 21.02.08 15:59:24 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I do Rob (adsl)

    Ok – nice to know for future reads..where would you find his articles?

  • Comment 29, posted at 21.02.08 15:59:28 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • I will try at home – have iBurst there. see if there is a difference..

  • Comment 30, posted at 21.02.08 16:01:38 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • RD – I can most definitely comfirm I don’t have the same problem from work.

  • Comment 31, posted at 21.02.08 16:01:48 by Nessa Reply

  • “comfirm” 😳

  • Comment 32, posted at 21.02.08 16:02:46 by Nessa Reply

  • Ice, he writes for the Mercury, so his stuff tends to be published on IOL.

    Ok… so my assumption so far is that problem only occurs if people are connecting via Telkom ADSL… can anyone give me an example to DISPROVE that theory?

  • Comment 33, posted at 21.02.08 16:05:37 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Hi Rob….I don’t have any problems….it seems to “remember” me….I’m on Mweb (adsl) 😀

  • Comment 34, posted at 21.02.08 16:10:25 by Me2 Reply

    Me2 aka Mama Shark
  • No problems here – adsl/mweb

  • Comment 35, posted at 21.02.08 16:15:16 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • hey Salmonoid — said once before —-Mweb RULES!!

  • Comment 36, posted at 21.02.08 16:32:28 by Me2 Reply

    Me2 aka Mama Shark
  • I’m on 3G and on occassion I post, but on submitting, it tells me the page cannot be displayed. But when I reload, the post is there. I think this is a WordPress issue though as I’ve had it on RW (before I came over to this side)… Otherwise no problems with the site.

  • Comment 37, posted at 21.02.08 16:37:22 by hellbent Reply

  • 21.02.08 16:37:22 – hellbent

    Have the same issue when logging in with my mobile.

  • Comment 38, posted at 21.02.08 16:50:55 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • We can loose Kees anytime. I think it will do the team good to have John there. Play him off the bench.

  • Comment 39, posted at 21.02.08 23:22:50 by Sharkie Reply

  • Kees is useful. Stops the bench blowing away

  • Comment 40, posted at 21.02.08 23:26:05 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.